The Ultimate Black Belt Test (UBBT)

The UBBT, Something Different

Ultimate Black Belt Test CertificateThe UBBT 2017 officially begins January of 2017 and ends January of 2018. If you want to talk to me (Tom Callos) about your own test, don’t hesitate to call / text me at 530-903-0286. You may, if you’re outside of the United States, reach me on, my name there is tomcallos.

The test, in a nutshell: It’s a 12 month process, minimum. It requires the participant to break his or her test into daily practices that promote fitness, health, and skill development. The UBBT requires the participant to set reasonable goals involving training, diet, education, community engagement, and project development –and then live the work transparently, for the world to see.

Someone who goes about the work diligently and with self-discipline creates the perfect tool to promote his/her school. The person who doesn’t, quits (Despite one of the rules of the project is that there is absolutely no quitting allowed. If you have a tendency to quit things you start, don’t join).

Each test is customized for the individual –and team coach Tom Callos helps members stay focused and on-task. No rank is ever awarded in the UBBT if the participant doesn’t absolutely bring his or her “A” game to the project.

The Ultimate Black Belt Test isn’t a black belt test, it’s something grander. It’s something designed with the intent of being more meaningful, more effective, and to have more of a profound and life-altering impact on the participants –and people in their sphere of influence.

The UBBT isn’t only about the skills, fitness, perseverance, and self-discipline of the man or woman who participates, it is about the impact the tester has on those around her, on the community he or she lives in, and on the international martial arts community in general.

The ultimate test would, in my mind, be one that deeply and authentically empowers the person taking the test, but that would only be a small part of the process. The ultimate test would go far beyond personal victory and achievement; the ultimate test could or would be measured by what the test does for others, what it creates, what it is a catalyst for, and for what it leaves behind.

The UBBT, on a Scale from 1 to 10

If the number 1, on a scale from 1 to 10, represents little or no effort, achievement, and movement, and the number 10 represents the most extraordinary results that one might imagine, 10 being the ultimate (within the scope of human possibility), then the goal of the UBBT, its intent, is to design and LIVE a test that is a 10 or as close to it as one can muster.

It has been said that the enemy of excellence is “good,” and so the person entering the Ultimate Black Belt Test process is asked to look deeply and thoroughly at what would be a good effort –and, in contrast to that, what would make an all out black belt test effort that far exceeds the idea of good, that races beyond what is expected, what is common, and/or what has been done in the past.

A simple example of this idea:

It would be good if a black belt test candidate was expected to maintain a healthy and nutritious diet for the period of his or her training for and taking of the black belt test, a diet that aids the participant’s fitness and performance, and that reflects a level of self-discipline indicative of the rank they’re testing for.

In the UBBT, I would also direct a tester towards a healthy and nutritious diet designed to enhance performance, but that would only be the first step of what might be 1000 steps. I would look for some level of engagement, of experience, that would use each meal ingested as a teaching tool –as three meals a day, recorded, documented, and publicly posted would give the participant 1000 opportunities in a year’s time (365 days x 3 meals a day would equal 1095 posts) to show, by example, his or her students and community exactly what a healthy diet looks like, what it is made up of. It would give the tester 1000 opportunites to send viewers to a website where more dietary information resides, 1000 opportunities to offer help to other people who want assistance in improving the quality of their own diets, 1000 opportunities to direct others to experts in the field, be they authors, dieticians, or activists in the field of nutrition, diet, and health.

The UBBT tester could then sum up what he or she has learned through this immersion in healthy eating in a series of presentation flash cards, a banner presentation, or audio-visual presentation that could then be shared with other people, in person or on-line, so that the chance to educate others and share what has been learned would be greatly expanded. The tester could pledge to dramatically reduce the sugar intake of people in his or her sphere of influence, during the testing process, be in it one other person, 10, 50,  or a 100 +, so that the work the tester is doing on himself is also work that has a healthy and quite possibly a dramatic and life-changing affect on many others.

The ultimate test is one that not only changes the life, habits, and skills of the person taking the test, but that also brings renewal, joy, health, education, and a sense of empowerment to as many people as the participant has the intelligence, creativity, and determination to affect.

To create and live a black belt test that changes the lives of others, profoundly, would be The Ultimate.

The UBBT is My Experiential Business Coaching Program

I am a lifetime martial artist, a student and a teacher –and I teach, coach, and mentor other martial arts teachers, be they novice instructors or polished veterans, in the art of doing what they / we do, more effectively. In many ways, the UBBT is about business, the business of teaching the martial arts, of running a school, that helps the person or people doing this work to have a more meaningful and profound impact on the people they teach and the communities they live in.

The better the teacher, the better the school. Martial arts teachers teach what they know, not what they don’t know. The UBBT is a business development program that focuses, first, on what the teacher knows, is willing to learn and experience, and most importantly what the instructor is doing, for others, that shows a level of understanding, commitment, and intelligence that has value.

How The UBBT Works

I co-design a 1-year (minimum) test with each participant made up of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social challenges that can be acted upon nearly every day of the year –and that, on a daily basis, don’t stretch the tester beyond what is sane, balanced, and safe, but when totalled up for the length of the test, become and/or create significant accomplishments.

For example, writing two pages a day of content about something of interest to the tester, would equal 730 pages in a year, which could become the first draft of the participant’s book.

160 push ups a day, done throughout the day in sets of 20 simple reps, would equal 58,400 push ups in a year. If the tester could convince 10 other people to participate, the entire group would have achieved 584,000 push ups –which would be an experiential lesson in how little things add up to be significant accomplishments (and play a huge role in fitness). This is a lesson we hope to teach many of the young people in our classes, the power to make big changes and achieve significant goals by taking small daily steps.

Three reps of a single kata or routine done every day becomes more than 1000 reps over a year’s time. What is the power of working on something 1000 times? This is the lesson demonstrated, by example, by the teacher looking to make his or her life a lesson that can inspire others.

Any curriculum, project, or endeavor conceived and then worked on diligently for 365 days, has the chance to become a piece of work of some significance.

I’m looking for black belts interested in making the UBBT a part of their self-imposed testing and life goals, people who are looking to join a program that’s intent is on personal, family, school, and community transformation. Nobody who has given their all to the UBBT process and legitimately engaged their goals, goals of significance and value, has walked away from the Ultimate Black Belt Test feeling it wasn’t one of the most educational, transformational, and empowering experiences of their martial arts career.  

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